Oklahoma ranks 36th in hate crimes

Thursday, October 9th 2003, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma ranked 36th in the nation in the number of hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents in 2001, according to federal statistics.

The state reported 46 hate crime incidents that year, the last year for which comparative numbers are available. That amounts to 1.33 incidents per 100,000 residents.

The most common hate crime in Oklahoma is an act of vandalism or intimidation. The typical perpetrator is white. The most common target is black, state statistics show.

Oklahoma law enforcement agencies reported 49 hate crimes in 2002. Eighteen of the offenses involved vandalism and 14 involved intimidation. Ten were simple assaults, five were aggravated assaults and two were burglaries.

The 2002 total equals less than 1 1/2 hate crimes per 100,000 Oklahomans.

Sharon Taylor Wilson, leader of Oklahoma's Celebrate Diversity task force, doesn't believe those numbers.

``I'm sure we're not all that wonderful. It's been my fantasy but not my experience,'' Wilson said. ``People tell me stories of hate incidences against minorities or other populations that just shock me.''

According to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, 24 of Oklahoma's 49 hate crimes last year were aimed at blacks. Only two targeted Hispanics, the fastest-growing minority.

No gay men reported being a hate-crime victim last year and only one lesbian did.

Wilson believes many victims of hate crimes don't report them, often out of fear of further discrimination. She said that applies especially to gay and lesbian victims, who may not wish for their sexuality to be widely known.

Hispanics also keep quiet about hate crimes, said Rey Madrid, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens.

``It's happening, but people will not report it,'' he said. ``Hispanics are a very proud people. They won't report things like that.''

Nationally, the FBI reported 9,730 bias-motivated incidents in 2001, the last year for which national numbers are available.

Massachusetts was first in the nation that year with 9.12 incidents per 100,000. Alabama was last with no reported incidents.

Hate crimes are defined as criminal acts motivated by bias against a person's race, religion, sexual orientation or ethnicity and national origin.

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